MONROVIA, LIBERIA -- While the Ebola virus spreads through West Africa, a USAID program that aims to improve the lending environment has been continuing to work hard to keep the Liberian economy moving by facilitating essential loans for local businesses.
|At an IBEX training session on food safety and environmental strategy that was held during the ebola crisis, a participant practices good hand washing protocol.
“Now more than ever, Liberian businesses need access to finance to enable them to operate, to pay suppliers, and to help their businesses through these difficult times,” said Watchen Harris Bruce, who heads the USAID-funded Liberia Investing for Business Expansion (IBEX) Program. “Despite the significant restrictions on the movement of people and goods brought about by efforts to control Ebola, IBEX’s local experts are continuing to provide small- and medium-sized businesses with essential advice and mentoring on acquiring loans and accessing credit,” Bruce said.
From July to September alone, IBEX helped clients in the construction, agriculture, general merchandise and trade sectors to access loans totaling US$860,000 to keep their businesses operational despite the challenges brought on by Ebola.
Bruce continued, “The Ebola crisis has really forced local businesses to change their economic activities and adopt new marketing strategies. While many NGOs and charities have unfortunately had to evacuate their ex-pat staff, IBEX’s local technicians and consultants are able to remain in post to help keep the Liberian economy running.”
Further loan packages for three additional local businesses valued at US$205,000 are in active process, and three projects valued at over US$1 million have been submitted to partner banks. IBEX is also exploring the feasability of a mobile money platform to ensure that rural teachers and healthcare workers continue to get paid via our partner banks, retail distributors and mobile network companies.
Furthermore, IBEX is assisting international organizations seeking to use our extensive networks to identify local businesses that can supply sanitary materials and local construction companies that can build Ebola treatment centers.
The Liberia Investing for Business Expansion Program has been working since 2012 to improve Liberia's lending environment by advising small- and medium-sized businesses and partner banks on improved risk and cost management. IBEX is funded by USAID and implemented by International Executive Service Corps (IESC) under the Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA).
Media contact: Lisa Chensvold, +1-202-589-2633, firstname.lastname@example.org